One theme that is a constant in a lot of films is the that of fathers and sons. Another thing done in movies a lot is the bio picture, wherein a film tries to show you all the major moments of what made a person great in some skill like a sport or an art. Chasing Mavericks is a film that does both fairly well with its story of young man who has a need of a father figure and that father figure struggling with how to be one. Also it happens to be the story of how that young man became a very important and accomplished figure in Surfing.
Chasing Mavericks is about the story of Jay Moriarity and his life about how he got into surfing and specifically learning how to surf Mavericks, huge waves off the northern California coastline. When Jay is a small child he meets a well-known local surfer Frosty Hesson, played by Gerard Butler. After meeting Frosty and clearly looking up to him he decides to learn how to surf. When he gets older Jay finds out about Mavericks and pleads with Frosty to train him to surf them. Frosty reluctantly agrees as long as Jay does everything he asks of him.
Jonny Weston plays Jay throughout most of the film. He portrays Jay as an almost angelic, maybe even Jesus like figure during the whole film. He’s at times the perfect kid. He takes care of and is more responsible than his mother Kristy. He works, he goes to school, he gets picked on but never fights back, and he always uses sir or mam. It’s never too annoying, at times it’s feels a bit unrealistic but it never hurts you from liking the kid. Gerard Butler does a really great job as Frosty. He really sells being this experienced master surfer and dispensing wisdom the best way he knows how.
Elisabeth Shue plays Jay’s mother Kristy Moriarty and Abigail Spencer play Brenda Hesson. Shue’s Kristy is as imperfect as Jay’s mother, while Spencer’s Brenda is unworldly perfect as Frosty’s wife. Both portrayals are very important to the two lead characters' background motivation. Spencer’s performance is also a bit angelic in how she’s portrayed. She always know the exact perfect thing to say to her husband when he’s facing his own doubts about helping Jay, as well as his own paternal skills.
The cinematography in Chasing Mavericks is also top notch. The shots of the ocean and waves are beautiful. The colors are vibrant while the camera movement is fluid and not jerky. The rest of the film doesn’t go to crazy with editing and camera movement also and save most of the great work for the surfing scenes. At moments the film does go through some of the motions you expect from a coming of age story. There are some real color-by-numbers parts of the script when things just go wrong at the right times to then go perfectly right later.